Will 30 Days on Jet Blue Help a School in Zambia?

by Julie Schwietert Sep 16, 2009

When he’s not running, he’s flying- Greg in white PJs. Photos courtesy of Greg Krause.

Last month, Jet Blue announced a bold promotion: fly as much as you want for 30 days with the flat rate All-You-Can-Jet Pass.

THE PROMOTION SPARKED some debate on Matador’s news blog, MatadorPulse, where readers weighed the attraction of cheap flights against the indulgence of a crazy carbon footprint.

Carbon footprint concerns notwithstanding, at least one traveler who bought the All-You-Can-Jet Pass is using Jet Blue’s promo to draw attention to his own pet project: supporting a school his parents developed in Zambia. Between flights, Greg Krause took the time to answer some questions about his 30 Days on Jet Blue initiative, including what he hopes to achieve and how he responds to critics who raise the dreaded carbon footprint question.


The school in Zambia

Matador: How and why were your parents asked to start a school in Zambia?

Greg: My parents are retired. My mother was a school teacher/principal/administrator and my father was a chemical engineer. About 14 years ago they decided to help run an elementary school in Gaborone, Botswana, during their retirement. While there, they made many connections.

About 4.5 years ago, they were approached by some local people from Macha, Zambia who had heard of them and asked if they would come and help establish a school in this area where there was no quality education for the children. My parents agreed and moved up there. Where they are located, there is no electricity and no running water. They use solar power and a generator to get by.

Matador: How much are you hoping to raise?

Greg: The school is in dire need of a reliable 4×4 vehicle and we are currently $22k short of the needed funds for the purchase and shipment of the vehicle. I would love to be able to check that need off the list for the school. There are also many many other needs, including building funds. With the generous help of the many people who hear this story, I am also hoping that we will be able to raise enough to put some money toward the building fund. It is a work in progress and the school/orphan boarding home is quickly outgrowing its current space.

They also are waiting for electricity. When/if the government brings power to the area we want to be ready financially to have that installed. I am hoping this project can make a major difference in the lives of these kids, and I am optimistic that if we all pitch in a little, we can accomplish this.

Matador: How much have you raised so far?

Greg: We have raised a little over $2,000 so far with this project. Last year, I agreed to run the NY Marathon in pajamas for a company called SnoreStop, in exchange for a $9,000 donation to the school.

Matador: What kinds of corporate sponsorship and support have you received?

Greg: I do not have any corporate sponsorship. I would love to have some, but have not been able to arrange anything. My main sponsor is the winner of the eBay auction – Orphan’s Promise. I am essentially promoting them (I have agreed to wear their shirts for the duration of the journey), but they are in turn promoting the school, the kids and the entire project.

Matador: How do you resolve some of the criticism people may have regarding the enormous carbon footprint generated by traveling so many miles against the presumed good that will come out of this project?

Greg: I don’t know if I can resolve any of the criticism regarding the giant carbon footprint all this air travel creates. This project would never have been possible without the “All You Can Jet Pass” sold by jetBlue. It is their lowest volume passenger period of the year. The planes are scheduled to fly even if they are not completely full. They are not adding any additional flights to their schedule to accommodate myself or anyone using the pass, With that in mind, the needs in Zambia are so great. These kids did not have the opportunity to attend school and they are now (or are on their way to) reaching their full potential.

Matador: Why is it so important to fund the school fully?

Greg: One of the students, Christopher, was 10 years old and had never been to school. He was an orphan being raised by a distant relative. They didn’t see him as a family member, but rather a burden and because of that, forced him to work as a donkey herder. Because of the school, Christopher is able to stay at the boarding home Monday through Friday. He has managed to go from the equivalent of kindergarten to 6th grade in less than three years.

Kids welcome new school year.

There are many of these types of situations. They call these children “throw away” or “disposable”; many of them lost their parents to HIV/AIDS or malaria. There is no one willing to help them and give them a chance at a future. One little girl named Beauty was living with a distant relative in a one room hut and about 15 other children. The adult in the home told my parents “Take her, we don’t want her.”

With the help of this school, the hard work of my parents and many other individuals, we are able to make a difference in these kids’ lives and give them a shot at a great future.

Matador: How can people support you, financially and otherwise?

Greg: For support, there is a link on my website for donations that is linked through Orphan’s Promise. They have committed to give 100% of the funds received for this project directly to the school. If everyone pitches in and donates a few dollars we can make a HUGE difference in the lives of these children. (Oh, and yes…it is tax deductible). There is no percentage taken out for overhead admin costs.

We also are working on a container project to ship a cargo container with many needed supplies. That is still in the works, but when that is ready, we will be accepting donations of clothing, school supplies, and equipment. This will probably be next summer.

The school is also always looking for people to go to Zambia and volunteer. The ultimate goal of the school is for it to be fully self sufficient and Zambia run, so that my parents can walk away knowing that it will continue to grow, but in the meantime there is a great need for as much help as they can get!

Matador: What do you do when you’re not jetting around raising money for Zambia?

Greg: I have graduated from medical school and I am currently finishing up my medical board exams and waiting to start my residency in family practice next year.

Community Connection:

What do you think about Greg’s 30 Days on Jet Blue? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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